Travel is never dull. Imagine our surprise, while chatting it up on the beach in Borneo, when we noticed this sneaky creature loafing toward our lounge chairs. A wild boar! She’s not actually that wild — she and the staff and guests do co-exist, and there are numerous other boars around the property. But they are an odd, unsightly lot — they seem to magically appear in the periphery of meals, spa sessions and time at the beach. You’ll be having a perfectly normal conversation over dinner and suddenly realize there’s a giant boar in the foliage near your table.
Our first encounter was abrupt, and not so magical. Gayle, as our close friend named her, came toward us, interrupting our conversation. We sat calmly and watched her approach. First she rounded the palm tree and headed for the yellow flippers and flip flops on the sand. Unsatisfied, she pointed her big hairy schnoz toward my chair and the pile of our stuff at the end of it — namely Jay’s yellow backpack from Dana Design. This is not your ordinary backpack — this pack has been with us since like 2003 when I worked for The North Face and someone from Dana gave it to me at the Outdoor Retailer tradeshow. This pack has been to Nepal, Morocco, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Canada, Mexico, Britain, France, Germany… everywhere. It’s light, perfectly constructed and carries a lot of memories.
As Gayle made a beeline for the backpack, Jay emphatically warned “Kelly, there’s an orange in the backpack! Kelly, there’s an orange in the backpack! Kelly, get the backpack!” He was filming the encounter on his iPhone, hence his inability to intervene before I understood what was happening. “Kelly, get the backpack!” I wasn’t sure quite what to do — I know from living in the woods that fast, sudden movements aren’t a good idea near any wild animal so I sort of let the whole thing play out while taking photos and slowly moving some of our other belongings out of the way. “Kelly, get the backpack!” But Gayle was quick — within a few seconds she had snatched the backpack, trotted a few steps away and given it a good shake, tearing open the bottom. “Kelly! GET THE BACKPACK!” Out popped the jewels — a couple ripe oranges that she popped open and savored, leaving the spent fruit in the sand as I tried to chase her off. “Kelly, get the backpack!” was now our friends saying “Kelly, be careful!” I retrieved the backpack, but the damage was done — the backpack was ripped beyond repair, the inevitable end that had to come sooner or later. “Oh man! That was my favorite backpack,” said Jay while still filming from his chair. At least the end came with a strong nose and a good story.